In December 2019, a jury in Berks County, Pennsylvania ordered Reading Hospital to pay $9.6 million in malpractice damages to a 15-year-old patient whose cervical cancer they had failed to diagnose in a timely manner. The facts of the case reveal that several healthcare providers ignored symptoms, failed to order necessary testing, and ultimately missed the opportunity to catch the disease when it was treatable, allowing it to become terminal.
The girl, identified only by her initials L.M., had first experienced symptoms when she was 11 years old and sought care for persistent vaginal bleeding from several healthcare providers. Despite her young age, those healthcare providers told her it was menstrual bleeding and not to be concerned. Doctors did not perform standard tests that would have revealed a mass on her cervix. As a result of this negligence, the girl’s cervical cancer progressed, she was required to undergo multiple surgeries, extensive chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. At the time of the verdict, the 15-year-old was on her death bed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 12,000 women develop cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 women die. As with all cancers, early detection is the key to survivability. HPV tests and PAP smears are used to detect precancerous tissue. When these tests reveal abnormal tissue, doctors can perform a colposcopy to examine the tissue more closely.
Ultrasound imaging and MRIs are also highly accurate in pre-operative evaluations of patients. If necessary, the doctor can perform a biopsy to determine if the tissue is cancerous. With all of these tools at their disposal, L.M.’s providers still could not find her cancer.
According to the Reading Eagle, the jury found that among L.M.’s healthcare providers Dr. Emmanuella Cherisme-Theophile, Reading Hospital, and Farias Medical Clinic causally negligent. The award’s breakdown was 50 percent liability for Cherisme-Theophile, 10 percent for Farias Medical Clinic, and 40 percent Reading Hospital.
No one who goes to a healthcare provider should have their concerns dismissed and their symptoms ignored. What happened to this young girl is a travesty. She reported her symptoms early, and competent medical care should have restored her to health. Instead, she was ignored until her disease had passed the tipping point, then was subjected to painful, futile therapies.
If you have suffered because of a missed or delayed diagnosis of a serious disease while in prison or jail, you have a right to compensation for your suffering. While this specific incident didn’t happen in jail, this type of medical malpratice happens within the prision system. Talk to a knowledgeable malpractice attorney at our firm at 866.836.4684 or online. Your consultation is free and completely confidential.